Sunday, January 31, 2010

Can Anyone Help Me?

Debatable, I know. But hold the jokes, please, this is serious!

I cannot open my oatmeal. Yes, I am able to tie my shoe laces, I have a drivers license, and I hold down a job. But I can’t open my oatmeal!

I’ve always bought the Quaker brand of steel cut oats and coveted the more expense John McCann's Steelcut Irish Oatmeal in the neato retro can. I thought about uses for the can after the oatmeal was gone. I could keep a homemade spice mix in it. I could keep tea in it. I could use it for something I buy in the bulk section of the grocery store, like dried dill. In the summer when the cucumber section of our garden goes crazy I go through ALOT of dill… dill, chopped fresh cukes, garlic salt and plain yogurt. Yum. I also buy quinoa and almonds and random new-to-me grains in the bulk section. It would be perfect cute storage for any of them!

But I can’t get the damn can open! I thought maybe the top popped off somehow. I couldn’t seem to make that happen. Tried and tried and tried, getting more frustrated until finally I said screw it, and got out the can opener. So by this time the can was ruined, I wouldn’t be able to recycle it into some fun kitchen use which was my ORIGINAL intention. It became a battle between me and the oatmeal can. The can opener didn’t work. Maybe I needed to use it at a different angle? Tried that. Still no dice and now the can is looking pretty bad. But it’s still winning! Help! I am THIS close to taking a hacksaw to it just to get it done. Inelegant? Yes. Effective? Likely.

Can anyone tell me how to open my freaking oatmeal??!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

I’m Back! And With Almond-Meal Encrusted Baked Stuffed Chicken

I had a crazybusycrazy week. I missed keeping up with everyone’s blogs and making my own random contributions! But I’m back online, and am reporting on the almond meal experiment.

I made almond milk last week and was left with a good bit of almond meal, a byproduct of the milk-making. I was excited to experiment with using the almond meal! I decided to coat chicken with it and bake the chicken, sort of an oven-fried chicken experience. And I thought while I was experimenting already, why not stuff the chicken breasts? It only took a few minutes to make the stuffing and put the whole thing together to bake. Here is the process and the result:

Stuffing: I ended up using a cup of chopped cooked broccoli and three Laughing Cow cheese wedges, with a little garlic.

Smash ‘em up.

Then for the assembly. I seasoned the almond meal with salt and pepper. I like to keep it simple when I’m cooking with something new, since I don’t really know what kind of flavor I am working with.

Slice a pouch in the side of the chicken breast and push in a couple tablespoons of the stuffing. Dip the stuffed breast in beaten egg, place in almond meal, flip the chicken to coat both sides, then place in baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and bake. I know I set the oven at 425 but I have no idea how long I baked it. I’m terrible at that part! I just check it after 25 minutes or so, then check it every 5 or 10 minutes until it looks done.

Here’s a blurry picture where I am trying to show you a cross-section of the stuffed bird parts. You can almost make out the filling. I need to work on my zoom technique instead of just leaning in really close to take a picture!

Verdict: yummo! It could have been a little moister. Next time I’ll cover the chicken for the first 20 minutes or so of baking, then remove the cover and crank the heat to brown the coating.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Just Checking In

Hey!  Had a crazy busy day (week) and my internet connection is INSANELY slow tonight.  It's making my skin crawl waiting for a single page to load... aaaaack!  Ok.  Ran by WW tonight just for a weigh-in and am up like 1.2 lbs.  Would have loved to stay for the meeting.  I LOVE my meetings.  But there was no time in the old schedule. 

I know good and well I didn't track at all this week and I only worked out a couple times.  So I know what I need to do to get back on the losing bandwagon.  I guess it's my same old 'two steps forward, one step back' so next is 'two steps forward' again.  I just need to lose two lbs to make it to a 15 lb loss, at which point I will post my first progress pictures.  WHOO HOO!

If I can get a post out tomorrow, it will be the almond-meal encrusted, broccoli and cheese stuffed chicken breasts I made last night.  They were awesome!

Also, I am on Twitter now!  There's a link on the right-hand side-bar if you would like to add me and get my random randomness.  I'm just learning Twitter so my learn-as-I-go may be entertaining.

Ok, keep on keepin' on, and have a fab week!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Homemade Almond Milk, Fun!

I love almond milk. I’m an enthusiastic cow’s milk drinker, but I love trying new things and enjoy vanilla almond milk on my cereal. I was intrigued when I saw that Roni of Roni’s Weigh and Green Lite Bites had made her own almond milk. It sounded easy. So here we go!


1 cup raw almonds
3 cups water
Splash vanilla
Squeeze agave nectar

Soak the almonds overnight in some water.

Mine got almost 24 hours because I wasn’t thinking and put them to soak last night. Since I thought I didn’t have time before work to make the milk I left them until the next evening. But it was so quick and easy, I could have made them in the morning before work, no problem!

Drain and rinse your soaked almonds, then put them in the blender with the three cups of water. Blend for about a minute.

Lay a tea towel over a bowl and slowly pour the contents of the mixer into it. Give it some time to drain.

Or if you’re impatient like me, gather the towel up and squeeze the milk out. By the way, I love that blue bowl so much! I found it in a thrift store when I was in college and every time I look at it, it makes me happy.

You will end up with about 16 ounces of almond milk and plenty of almond meal.

I put the almond meal in the fridge to make something with later, and added enough water to the almond milk to make a quart. J and I both tried it. He’s a trooper; I experiment alot in the kitchen and I like getting a second opinion on my creations.

I think I put too much water in it; I should have tried it first. I made it a little too watery. But it was good. It had a subtle almond taste. I added a splash of vanilla and a squeeze of agave nectar. Even better. J said it tasted like melted ice cream. I decided to give it the final test, in a bowl of cereal.

Fabulous! The almond taste came through more than I expected and married so nicely with the bran cereal and blueberries. I can tell you right now I will make this again and again and again! It was so easy to make and I like being in control of the ingredients.

I will update you when I use the leftover almond meal for something. I was thinking maybe I’d use it in a crust for baked chicken breasts stuffed with broccoli and Laughing Cow cheese. We’ll see. Stay tuned!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Thai-Inspired Peanut Butter Noodles

I was pondering my previously professed love for peanut butter (say that five times fast) and though it would make a nice Thai-inspired twist on Lo Mein. None of my measurements are precise; I just eyeballed amounts, tasted, and in some cases, added more. I’m giving you what are, I think, the final amounts. But you would probably want to adjust the seasonings and sauces to suit your own taste. Don’t sweat about being precise.  And if you want to reduce the fat content of the recipe, you could skip the sesame oil and just use cooking spray for sautéing, and use PB2 instead of the actual peanut butter.


Whole wheat spaghetti, enough for 2 or 3 people
1 cup frozen broccoli
½ cup frozen corn

1 Tbs sesame oil
½ to 1 tsp grated fresh ginger (I keep nubs of it in the freezer and just grate it frozen)
Dash garlic powder
Dash onion powder
Dash ground cumin
1 cup cabbage, chopped
1 cup cooked pork (I used leftover roast pork tenderloin)
½ cup water
½ cup peanut butter (I used Naturally More)
3 Tbs hoisin sauce
1 Tbs roasted chili paste
1 Tbs soy sauce

Cook enough whole wheat spaghetti for two really hungry people. I served this as a one-dish meal so I cooked plenty of pasta. When the pasta is close to done, add frozen broccoli and corn to the water to defrost.

While the pasta is cooking, heat a tablespoon of sesame oil in a skillet. Grate maybe half a teaspoon of fresh ginger into the heated oil and add the ground cumin, garlic powder and onion powder. Then add the chopped cabbage to the skillet, stirring it to coat. When it is wilted and becoming translucent, add the pork. Stir occasionally. Once the pork is heated through, add the water, peanut butter, hoisin sauce, chili paste and soy sauce. Heat, stirring occasionally, until the peanut butter is melted and the ingredients have distributed evenly.

Drain the pasta and vegetables and stir into the peanut butter mixture.

I loved this. I would probably like it a tad spicier; next time I’ll probably use some regular chili paste, as opposed to the roasted chili paste. Or that garlic chili sauce. So don’t be afraid this will have too much heat. The flavors come together so nicely, and with all the fiber and protein it’s really filling.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

What IS That Crazy Thing in the Sky?


Dear Sun,

I have not seen you in almost two weeks. You didn’t call, you didn’t write..I was afraid you'd left forever. I heard a rumor another girl saw you Friday. But I didn’t. I was so hurt.

But you’re back! The world is bright and fresh and I feel alive again! Your return has filled me with love and energy. Today I’m not going to the gym; I’m going to get my workout cleaning my house from top to bottom! There are ceiling fans to be dusted, carpet and furniture to be vacuumed and shampooed, floors to mop, laundry to do…. And I’m doing it all because YOU ARE BACK!

You light up my life [cue singing].



Saturday, January 23, 2010

Work It

I hit the gym about 10:00 this morning and did an hour on the elliptical, whoo hoo! I tried reading on the elliptical this time. I am the Queen of Motion Sickness but I read the whole time with no queasiness. Awesome! I was reading a book about running and was so pumped to get on the treadmill after. My right knee was getting kind of tight so I went and stretched it out. There were still treadmills available when I went to stretch. And after I did, there were none. I thought maybe there was one but there was a sweaty towel on it. Someone had marked it as their own. I strolled down the treadmill lane, waiting. I saw one open up at the other end and before I could even start walking that way, some guy who had NOT been waiting, who had just walked up, took it. Hmph. Went and hung out at the end of the row. A girl got off her machine and puttered around, leaving her water bottle on it. I asked if she was done and she said no, picking up some weights and proceeding to do lunges down the lane. Sigh. I hung out a little longer and then gave up. Boo. Clearly tomorrow I need to go earlier. I guess I can’t say anything since I did use the elliptical for an hour. But in my defense, there were several other elliptical trainers available that entire time.

On the up-side, I DID do that hour on the elliptical! And started reading one of the books I ordered from Amazon. I’ll tell ya all about it when I’m done. It’s awesome and inspiring so far. But no more details until I can give you a real review!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Dude, Where's My Hiney

Ok, it’s right where it’s always been. But I lost 2.6 lbs this week! That’s a total loss of 14.2 lbs.

I averaged about 25% over the recommended points per day. It could just be a fluke, because I have been working out so consistently recently. The body is a funny thing. I’m not going to assume it’s going to work that way every time. This week I concentrated more on eating what Weight Watchers calls Filling Foods, which includes fruit, vegetables, lean meats and whole grains. Maybe that had more to do with it.

I got a fabulous lunch tote for Christmas (thanks Judy!).

It’s insulated, pretty, and big enough to handle lunch, snacks, and an ice pack, with room to spare. The honey bear came into play because I was in a hurry and couldn’t find a little storage thingie for the All Bran I was going to sprinkle on my yogurt later.

And look, it all fits!

Now I can haul all my bulky healthy goodies to work in style.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I Love Peanut Butter

When I was in college I had a part-time job at a local natural foods store and that’s where I met my favorite peanut butter ever. They had a grinder that looked kind of like a gumball machine full of peanuts. You flipped a switch and held out a bowl and got fresh pure PB. No sugar, very little salt, just peanut-y goodness. I loved it.

Last month I shared one of my go-to products with you, PB2, which is peanut butter with 85% of the fat removed. It’s definitely not the same as the fresh, pure peanut butter from the gumball-grinder but I like it. It doesn’t have additives either; I don’t know the process they use to remove the fat but the ingredients are peanuts, salt and sugar. Pretty basic.

I’ve been working out alot more than usual the last week or so and have found myself pretty hungry. Not growly-stomach cranky-hungry, but I-tried-to-unlock-the-front-door-with-the-car-remote hungry. I’ve also been tracking my points faithfully since my Wednesday night weigh-in. Admittedly I hosed myself by eating a cheeseburger early on this week, but I’m still tracking. And I’m trying to incorporate more protein and sufficient fat. It’s helped some. But I’ve been questioning the recommended daily points allowance from Weight Watchers; I’ve found it insufficient even when allowing for exercise (you earn more points that way). I’m finding if I include two to four more points than recommended, I feel better. I’m not binging and for the most part I’m trying to make good choices. I’m curious to see what tomorrow night’s weigh-in will reveal as far as results. I think I may start allowing myself two to four more points every day. And maybe that will help me avoid future cheeseburger derailments and the like.

So in keeping with this interest in increasing protein and (reasonable) fat in my diet and allowing a few more points, I tried a new peanut butter today. I haven’t found a local store with a peanut grinder, boo! But I found Naturally More at the grocery store. It's advertised as as “Higher in protein, higher in fiber, no trans fat.”

The ingredients are roasted peanuts, wheat germ, flax seed, cane sugar, egg whites, honey, and flaxseed oil. Hmph. No “x’s” or “ides” anywhere. But egg whites? Really?!

There was a good deal of oil on top. I haven’t bought PB you had to mix in years. I started mixing.

A minute or so later I was still mixing.

Still mixing.

Ok, it looks ready.

Straight out of the container it tasted different than I’m used to, but it was good. The flax seeds must have been toasted. Nice. I could not tell if the slightly gritty texture was just a coarse grind of the nuts, or maybe it was the cane sugar? It made me feel like I was eating homemade peanut butter. I was in. And it was kinda sweet; I could live without that. But I still liked it.

On toast it was great. J said “it tastes like peanut butter.” He’s not as interested in the subtle nuances of different PB’s as I am. But if you’ve read this far, you might be! So the verdict: I like it. I might buy another jar when this one’s empty. Or I might try one with less sugar.  I'm a complicated woman.

This review was unsolicited and I was not compensated by the product’s company.

Monday, January 18, 2010

My First Award!

I was so honored yesterday to be mentioned in Anonymousfatgirl’s blog when she accepted an award and then in turn gave the award to ten bloggers of her choice. Including me!

The Happy 101 award hits me right where I live because I try to be positive. It does not come naturally though it has become easier over time. I made a conscious decision several years ago to be positive and I work on it every day. Why? I would rather be happy than not. And I believe it’s catching. I would rather spread felicity than discontent. My life is what I make of it, and I want it to be happy! And I want that for you, as well, so I try to keep my posts positive even when I’m struggling. Which seems to help me be more positive, myself, so win-win!

The rules of the award are to copy the award image and display it on your blog, list 10 things that make you happy, try to do one of those things today and then pass the award along to 10 bloggers who brighten your day.

Many things make me happy. I believe in finding joy in the small things; they are all around us and each one is a gift. Here are a few that came to mind right away:

• My special honey and our little menagerie;
• Family and friends;
• The sunrise. I may not be happy to be up when the sun is coming up, but the sunrise always turns that around;
• Spring! I am so excited about trees budding, flowers blooming, and planning this year’s garden!
• Good movies;
• Good books;
• Pedicures, yeah baby;
• The beach;
• Long, hot baths; and
• Lazy days.

I’m always finding new blogs to read; there is lots of good stuff out there! Here are some of the blogs I enjoy, in no particular order, and to whom I'm passing on the Happy 101 award:

Anonymousfatgirl of course. She is upbeat and no b.s. at the same time, and boy is she hard core about getting fit. She is on a mission to lose weight and build muscle and she is not messing around! And her blog is the same color as my neglected snowboard;
Roni’s Weigh. This was the first weight loss blog I ever read. Roni reached her goal weight and continues to blog about maintaining it. There is a wealth of information on her site, or should I say sites. She has two other blogs: Green Lite Bites for recipes and Skinny Minny Media for techie info, and she also has the Blog to Lose website and is organizing the Fitbloggin' 10 conference. She is one busy lady and has a lot of good information crammed in that noggin. Lucky for us she shares!
TippyToeDiet. Cammy reached her goal as well. She is encouraging and supportive and pretty darn funny, too. She shares what she has learned on her weight loss journey, and she continues to seek out new information about health and fitness. She and Roni show us the commitment needed to maintain a goal weight. You have to continue the effort even after you reach that goal because it takes work to stay there!
Bitch Cakes overhauled her lifestyle, determined to become healthy. Her photo gallery shows the amazing progress she has made. Her blog is full of fabulous photography and recipes and her style is second to none.  She has two other blogs, Musings of an Irate Commuter and The World According to Bitch Cakes, both also full of great photography and definitely worth a read;
Chocolate Covered Katie. I just found her blog through a mention on Cammy’s site, and it is full of amazing vegan recipes that have this omnivore heading to the grocery store for the ingredients;
Tiny Glow. Hillary is working hard and making great progress. I love seeing her updates;
Mizfit is hard core and hilarious!
She Wears a Red Sox Cap. Kelly’s elliptical challenge for January is the only reason I hauled my hiney to the gym some recent days. Thanks Kelly!  She also just started a teaching blog, She Teaches.  Check it out!
Endurance Isn’t Only Physical is another inspiring lady who made it to goal.
Chubby Girl Diaries is great. She is honest about her journey and motivated to make it happen.

One thing these bloggers all have in common is a genuine voice that comes through loud and clear. They share what they care about, how they are working on their goals and give information so their readers can do the same. I look forward to every one of their posts. See “Blogs I Read” on my side bar for more blogs that inspire me.

What blogs do you read?  Share your inspirations in the comments!  And thank you again, Anonymousfatgirl, for the award!

Edit: Cammy at The Tippy Toe Diet asked me to pass her award on to another blogger since she had already received it.  And I loved that idea!  What isn't great about spreading Happy around a little more?  So I would also like to give the award to Mary at A Merry Life.  She is moving right along in her weight loss journey and she embraces life whole-heartedly.  And I will mention again, many of the other blogs I read are on my sidebar; please check them out!  There are more I need to add; I'm bad about updating that list...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Three Weeks of Moving That Hiney

I was about to sum up this past week when I realized I have been exercising more consistently for three weeks now. It has helped alot that we had holidays and I took some time off at work, so I had more time to get to the gym. I’m hoping I have enough momentum now to keep it going since my regular schedule starts up again on Tuesday.

12/27/09-1/2/10 Four trips to the gym. Each one was: 30 minutes on the elliptical trainer, 30 minutes on the stationary bike and 30 situps.

1/3/10-1/9/10 Ok, not so consistent. In my defense that was the week of the snowstorm but I could have worked out at home. Two trips to the gym. The first was 30 minutes on the elliptical trainer and 30 minutes on the bike. The second was 90 minutes on the elliptical trainer.

1/10/10-1/16/10 Superstar! Five gym visits. Three were 1 hour on the elliptical, run ½ mile, and 40 situps. The fourth was the same, minus the running. The fifth, yesterday… well I had to talk myself into going to the gym (J was laughing at me, apparently I was talking myself into it out loud), then talk myself out of the car when I got there. I did 20 not-very-hardcore minutes on the bike and left.

Today is the beginning of the fourth week and I was a rock star! I did an hour on the elliptical, then ran a mile on the treadmill before my 40 situps. I walked out to imaginary applause and an imaginary standing ovation.

I’ll leave you with a few pictures I took the day before yesterday. We’ve had some fog, then freezing. The result was frost outlining pine needles and naked tree branches, making everything look magical.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Greek Yogurt and Blueberries

I promised a spaghetti squash post this week but it was not meant to be. I just cooked and cut open the squash and it had several bad spots. It would not have been worth the trouble to cut around them and the pictures would have been gross. Plus I have never seen a spaghetti squash go bad, so that was just weird. Maybe it sat in the bin at the grocery store for two months before I bought it; I don’t know.

To make it up to you I tried fat free Greek yogurt! The brand I bought has 160 calories per cup.

I use a lot of plain grocery-store brand regular old yogurt; I throw it into anything I’m cooking if it won’t ruin it. I don’t know why, except that it makes me feel all healthy and stuff. But I decided to buy the Greek yogurt in vanilla so don’t expect me to cook with it. Or put it in mashed potatoes. Or in soup. I found a much better use for it: snack time!

Defrost ½ cup frozen blueberries in the microwave. Stir in ½ cup yogurt. Toss some high fiber cereal on top. I used All Bran. Yum!

The yogurt was creamy and silky, and I wouldn't know it was fat free if I hadn't read the container. And of course blueberries and yogurt are a classic combo. The cereal gave it a little texture. It was a nice, satisfying snack that I counted as two points after adding the cereal.

This review was unsolicited and I was not compensated by the product’s company.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Shirataki Noodle and Winter Vegetable Extravaganza

I wanted to make a low point dinner since I had overindulged earlier today. This was a perfect opportunity to try the Shirataki noodles, rutabaga and parsnips that I bought and have been working up the nerve to try.

I have not had rutabaga since I was little and my mom put it in a stew. I’ve never had parsnips. The rutabaga was round with a waxy looking skin that I pared off before chopping it. The parsnips looked like white carrots.

After peeling and chopping the veggies, I tossed them with olive oil, garlic salt, pepper and Italian seasonings.

I spread them on parchment paper on a baking sheet and baked them at 475. While they were cooking I started the noodles.

I read about the noodles on Hungry Girl's Website.  Shirataki noodles are made from tofu; they are a very low calorie pasta substitute at a teeny 20 calories per serving. Apparently they have an odd taste if not prepared properly, so you are supposed to rinse, rinse, rinse them, and rinse them some more, then dry them prior to using in the dish you are preparing. So I rinsed. Alot.

Then I boiled them briefly before rinsing them again. Meanwhile I sautéed some mushrooms in olive oil pam and added a cup of vodka sauce to the mushrooms to heat.

At this point the veggies were not quite done yet, so I set the oven on broil to wrap things up. By the time I plated the noodles and sauce the vegetables were done. I’m guessing they took half an hour to cook but you might allow for more time.

Both vegetables were similar to potatoes. I loved the parsnips. They were mild and a little sweet. The rutabaga had a little bit of an earthy taste but wasn’t bad. The noodles were fine. A little rubbery but no more so than al dente pasta. There seemed to be a little bit of a different taste to the noodle dish to me, but maybe it was just that those mushrooms had been in the fridge a little longer than they should have been! It’s weird to have eaten a serving of pasta and not have that carby-feeling afterward.

So after I broke the point bank earlier today, I still managed to make a filling and nutritious dinner; the only significant points were from the vodka sauce and the olive oil on the vetables. A salad would have been nice but I am so full, I don’t think I could have eaten one. All in all, not bad for a “save the points” meal.  I'm guessing the only one of the three new foods I would buy again would be the parsnips.

Glass Half Full

I'm having one of those days, but am working on seeing the "glass half full" version. 

Yes, I had my first fall of the winter on my way out of the gym today, but at least I only went to my knee and did not get hurt.  And this is pretty far into winter for the first tumble! 

I did NOT want to work out... but I did.  Yay me! 

One of the dogs has puked FOUR times today.  Yes, FOUR times.  But he's better now and the mess is cleaned up, too. 

I made it all the way through driving to and from the gym and running two errands without stopping for fast food which I really wanted.  A cheeseburger specifically.  Then I got home, and immediately left to go get a cheeseburger.  But I wrote it down; I'm tracking so I know what points I have left for the rest of the day... kinda none.  But yesterday I bought some new veggies I've never cooked before, so there's a low-point dinner idea for tonight. 

See?  Glass half full.  I'm trying!

Ok, I'm going to go cook some shirataki noodles and take pictures for y'all; I've been looking forward to trying them for a while, this will be fun!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

We Have Stats, People!

See the "My Progress" link on the sidebar for my weight loss and inches lost since starting Weight Watchers 11/11/2009.  I debated whether or not to post it and decided to for accountability.  It's hard to think about people seeing the numbers and judging, but maybe the thought of that will help me see myself as I am right now.  Sometimes I think we fall into sort of a body dysmorphia, where we look in the mirror but instead of seeing the reflection, we see what we expect to see.  It could be the newly slim person seeing their former heavier self (more common than you might suspect), the fit person seeing non-existent excess weight, or in my case, the heavy person seeing someone somewhat smaller.  So here's to seeing clearly!

On a related note, I went to WW last night after missing last week's meeting.  I went to our final two Christmases of the holiday season in the interim and am pleased to report I only gained 0.8 lbs in the two weeks since the last time I went to a meeting.  I would have liked to see a loss but it could have been worse, especially since I'm still struggling with tracking my food.  But today is a new day, I have my tracker in-hand and am starting fresh!  And if you'll notice on my Progress page, minus a few inches, which I am attributing to my recent workout streak.  Wahoo!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Hi. My Name is Liz and I Have a Sneaker Problem

I have a problem with sneakers. I become attached to them and cannot throw them away. I wear them until the sole is slick and then they go to rest in Sneaker Bench.  I don’t buy a ton of sneakers; I usually have three or fewer pairs in active rotation: one or two for working out and every day wear, and one or two for yard work, fishing and the rare vacation to a beach.

My sneakers and I go through a lot. I tell them my secrets, my hopes and dreams, as we pound the pavement or a treadmill. Here are some of the superstars:

These cheered me on in my first successful weight loss journey. We walked at least a mile three times a day, no matter what the weather. On weekends we sometimes walked four to six miles at a time. They saw me go from whiny fat girl, crying because she was hungry, tired and cranky, to a fit and trim powerhouse. They never judged me, treating me the same at both ends of the journey.

These were there for me in the skinny years. They took less punishment that the first pairs initially, but then I caught the running bug. Their cushy life ended and they never complained. We spent 30 minutes on the pavement four to six times a week and they stuck it out like champions.

These have stuck around for the last few years of gaining all the weight back and several false starts at getting back in shape. They have been kind and supportive. Never a word about missed gym trips or the extra weight they had to carry. Or about being left out at night unintentionally for the puppy to chew.

Yesterday we added a new pair to the family. They were my reward for beginning to work out consistently. Let’s welcome them and wish them well. They have alot of work to do.

Coming up Today

Coming later today, the new sneakers!

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Gym Again

Whoo hoo!  Another day of 1 hour on the elliptical trainer and then off to the treadmill to run a half mile.  Then situps and stretches.  I was a good girl today and stretched before my workout, too. 

I felt so good on the elliptical this morning that I wanted to bust out some dance moves, but stifled the urge.  First because I would fall off the machine, and second because then I would officially become a Gym Character: the Girl Who Boogies on the Elliptical.  Which would violate my personal policy of flying under the radar.  The urge faded after about 30 minutes into my workout; close call.

I entered a giveaway contest at Endurance Isn't Only Physical's blog.  It's for iFitness's sport-belt/waist-pack that looks like it is perfect to use when you're working out.  To enter the contest you have to post comments telling Endurance Isn't Only Physical which belt you would like to win, that you are a follower of her blog, that you have posted about the contest, and recommend some headphones/earbuds for her.  It looks like a pretty cool running accessory so wish me luck!  You might run over to her blog, too, and check the contest out for yourself.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Return to Running

I just got back from the gym and am so pumped!  I did an hour on the elliptical trainer and then thought what the hey, I was already more than warmed up.  I hopped on the treadmill and cranked out a leisurely half-mile.  Very leisurely; I'm talking a 15-minute-mile pace.  I've always been a slow runner by preference anyway, but I'm taking it extra easy since my last running streak was from February to July 2009, and before that I had not run since October 2008.  But I'm back, folks!

My heartrate was 167 when I finished the half-mile.  I like to keep it under 140 so I will probably not run more than a half-mile at a time for a while.  I figure seven or eight minutes at the higher heartrate will not hurt me. 

I will have to start stretching out before my workouts now.  I have only been stretching out afterwards since I started this latest stint of working out regularly.  But today after 20 minutes on the elliptical my left knee started feeling tight.  I will probably start taking glucosamine again, too, to protect my joints.  I find it really helps me when I take it regularly.

I Am So Excited!

Last week I only made it to the gym twice but still managed to get my two hours on the elliptical in. And in doing so remembered how good I feel after longer cardio sessions: I am more relaxed and I’ve had plenty of time to 1) let my mind wander and 2) get over whatever might be bothering me. I’m kind of an over-thinker and exercise is good therapy for me.

Last week I missed my weight watchers meeting for the first time; it was because of the snow. I hated missing the meeting and am really looking forward to going this Wednesday.

I have this week off so will be able to get tons of gym-time in! Which is great because since I still am not doing so well tracking food, and because I used the over 600 calories I burned at the gym Saturday as license to eat whatever I wanted at that final Christmas gathering later that day… which extended into the next day (Waffle House, oopsy)… Ahem. You get the idea. With two weeks between weight watchers weigh-in’s this time, I would really like to be able to show some kind of a loss and am not sure I will. But that does not take away from the fact that I still made it through the holidays (not including our extended version) a full size smaller.

After a conversation with Anonymous Fat Girl in the comments on a post she wrote about putting your progress stats out there and another post as well, I’ve decided to bite the bullet and post my weight and measurements. I have to work on it since Blogger does not really have a ready-made way to make pages (where you have links on top of the page or in your side bar to static pages like “About Me”, “Progress”, etc.) but I found a way to make it work so that will be coming up this week.

Also coming up this week: trying shirataki noodles which are 20 calories a serving, and cooking spaghetti squash which is a low-calorie delicately flavored vegetable treat.

Have a fab week!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Snow in MO

The night before last we got hit by that snow storm that has been all over the news. It had been cold already, but hey, this is winter. And we already had a good amount of snow. But once again, it’s winter, people! And then the snow storm hit. Wow!

It is gorgeous; powdery and drifting. It is also dangerous. This year I have seen so much aggressive driving when the roads are bad. I don’t understand it. My rule of thumb when I’m driving on snowy or icy roads is if I have to brake right now, what will happen?  And I adjust my speed accordingly.

With all the snow hitting us I did not get to the gym yesterday morning as I had planned. So I am behind on She Wears a Red Sox Cap’s elliptical challenge this week. And I have a big family weekend coming up (the last Christmas event) with people in from out of town and there will be houseguests at multiple locations and sharing of cars to make sure everyone can get around. I am going to have to be extra extra dedicated to make sure I get up early enough to get to the gym without slowing down the holiday fun by hogging a car.

I also could not get to my Wednesday night Weight Watchers meeting. It’s the first one I have missed! I’m sure it was cancelled though, since that was the night of the big snow. I need to check the schedule and see if there’s another one I can get into today or tomorrow so I at least go to one.

How lucky am I that I have one more Christmas left? I love Christmas.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Steamed Pork Dumplings

I mentioned the steamed pork dumplings in this post. It’s our favorite thing to get when we order Chinese take-out, and I wanted to have control over exactly what goes into them and know their nutritional information and point value. Plus our fave Chinese place closed and the new place made a much doughier dumpling. Still good, but not the same. So I found a recipe I thought I could try and the fun began!  I've made them four or five times and it gets easier each time.

I was not paying attention at the grocery store and bought a little over a pound of ground pork this time instead of the 1 ¾ pounds that the half a recipe calls for. So here are the amounts I ended up with:

1.2 lbs ground pork
3 cups chopped cabbage
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
2 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 ½ tablespoons sesame oil
1 egg
46 wonton wrappers (I must have overfilled the dumplings a little, half a recipe should make 50 dumplings but I think only being off by 4 is not too shabby.)

I chopped about half a head of cabbage and added to the pork in the mixing bowl. Usually I buy the angel hair coleslaw mix but I went to the store twice and they were out both times. It was fun to practice chopping, and the odds and ends that didn’t make it into the dumplings went into my admittedly eccentric Mystery Broth freezer bag (explained here).

I also enjoy smashing garlic, a hobby which comes in handy when cooking. I mixed it up just for you this time. One garlic clove went into the garlic press.

And the other got my favorite treatment, I laid the flat of a knife on it and then slammed the knife into the garlic clove, smashing it. Then I chopped it, no pictures of the chopping, not as exciting.

I grated a nub of fresh ginger into the mixture. To be honest, it was a nub of frozen ginger. When I buy ginger, I snap it into pieces about the size of the end of my thumb and keep it in the freezer since I don’t use it that often.

Add the rest of the ingredients and mix. I use my hands, and yes, it kinda grosses me out. But the end result is worth it.

Prepare your work space by flouring the spot you will be assembling the dumplings and setting a small bowl of water nearby for dipping your fingers when wetting the wonton wrappers.

I recommend laying out the wonton wrappers and spooning in the filling assembly-line style. I lay out as many wonton wrappers as I have space for, then put a little less than a tablespoon of the pork mixture in each one.

The next part I do one at a time. Wet the edges of a dumpling, fold it over into a triangle and press the edges together. I find it’s easiest to press the apex of the triangle together first, then to do the edges while you hold the dumpling. Then if you overfilled it you can poke the filling around to make sure you have clean wonton wrapper edges for sealing.

Here is a handful of dumplings that I have on parchment paper and am about to put in the freezer. We only eat about 15 at one meal so this time I made as many dumplings as I could with the filling and froze the excess dumplings for future, much easier homemade Chinese dinners.  In the past I have just frozen the excess dumpling mixture because I didn't have two hours to spare putting together the entire batch.

Steam the dumplings for 20 to 30 minutes. I use a stainless steel steamer basket and non-stick spray. The basket can fit about 8 of them; if they touch they will stick together. Serve with your sauce of choice. I like a combination of equal parts rice vinegar, mirin (a sweet cooking wine or sake), soy sauce and maybe a half teaspoon chili paste per serving.

Some people say to sauté them a little to give them some color. It might make them prettier but I just like them steamed. They are full of flavor and are one of my favorite dinners. I like the dipping sauce as much as I like the dumplings. I was thinking maybe I should marinate some veggies in the sauce and grill or broil them. Or use it as a salad dressing. Currently my go-to salad dressing is a few splashes of rice vinegar and two teaspoons of olive oil. But I digress.

Since the recipe made three times what we will eat, I spread the extra out on trays without cooking them, and froze them. Once they were close to frozen solid I tossed them in a big Ziploc bag.

The next two times we want dumplings, I can steam the frozen ones for about 35 minutes, make the sauce and maybe a salad, and dinner is served!

Now I just need to figure out what to do with the other half of that head of cabbage.  Any ideas?